I got an email from my daughter today. Like Lucy, I’ve “got some ‘splainin’ to do”. I’m going to try – a little at a time because I don’t really know how…
“Tomtom wants to know where you were. He wants to know why you weren’t around. What do you want me to tell him?
He is upset. Of course. Explain this for me”
I always feel like you want a snappy answer, a quick answer.And I’ve told you so many answers, but none of them will make things different, make things ‘ok’.My stomach hurts, as if it’s hungry though I just ate.
Why wasn’t I around?
Uh, it started when I didn’t know where you were.You mentioned that I told you “I didn’t think about you.”I didn’t.I couldn’t bear to think of you as a little human.I never thought about what you looked like, whether your hair was curly, or whether you were pigeon toed, or how big you were.I could not bear that.I thought about your heart, your feelings, your energy, the things I felt I could touch inside me.I reached out to you inside me and I prayed for you and I loved you as something other than your body.I could not bear to think of your humanness, your baby needs. Your baby needs that I was not meeting.
The year or two following your birth was a sordid time for me.I was desperate.Later I was ashamed of that time and am just now coming to compassion for myself, recognizing that I was struggling with something inexplicable.Because no one else acknowledged my grief, I invalidated it too.
To assuage my loss I told myself I could try again.But I had to do it right next time.I had to have a father for my children.That was why I couldn’t keep my first born.There was no ‘father’. It was worse in my mind; the ‘man’ I had mated with abandoned me once I was pregnant.I had chosen wrong, mating with a man who could not/ would not love and care for me and our child.
I moved along searching through one relationship after another.
Eventually I found love with a man that shared many of my dreams.When our son was born he stood next to me.That night when I woke up at home in our bed, he was only a few feet away, wiping up the baby’s first bowel movement.He was the first man I ever fought with.That scared me.
We fought and we loved and we had another baby and we moved 1500 miles away.He quit his job and went back to school.We were living in a strange place, with very little money and no family and you called.
My daughter.You had a baby of your own.You said things that scared me, that I’ll not repeat here.
I’d had fantasies that some day we would learn to know each other again, that you would revel in having a mother that knew and loved you and held secrets that only we could share.Sweet fantasies.The reality was that you were hurting, but lying to me about it.I was shaking on my bed like I didn’t know what hit me.A lifetime of abandonment was spilling onto us and I slipped back into the buried trauma of being a teenage relinquishing mother instead of rising to the occasion to love and nurture you in your scared denial of having any interest in a ‘mother’.Yes, we’re both “going on with our lives” so I must conform to your request and give you medical information.
So at that point, I wasn’t around because you weren’t sure you wanted to get to know me.And as far as I was concerned I had absolutely NO RIGHT to ask anything of you.I had terminated my rights because I was not worthy of you.
But we were just getting started.You raised some pretty awkward questions before we met in person.But I didn’t ask any.I had no right.I’m shaking again as I write this now.Years later you told me you were hurt because I didn’t ask you questions.You thought it meant I wasn’t interested.You didn’t know how I shook.
But my spouse saw it, felt it.I couldn’t explain it.I didn’t have any right to these feelings.I had terminated my rights.I was supposed to be all better now, a grown up.I had children that had not been taken from me.I had to act responsible for God’s sake.And we had uprooted ourselves to live in Indiana (!).Fortunately my grandpa died and we were flown back to CA and I could meet you.Though I fretted about how I looked and how could I possible live up to your standards and did my best, it wasn’t good enough and you wanted to stop our budding relationship.
But we stumbled and struggled on.It seemed like everything I did or said was wrong.It seemed you were telling me that I was the source of all that was wrong in your life because I had abandoned you.Nothing had prepared me for that.I just didn’t get it for years and years.
You taught me a new word, “birthmother”.It felt really good to know there was a term for me.I was a birthmother, a real thing.That was so much more than I’d had.
I remember where I was the first time you questioned me about not being part of Tomtom’s life.
We were having one in a series of terrible fights. You were angry with me. Everything I said or did was wrong. I was afraid of our relationship, afraid it would disintegrate, afraid you were about to drop me for good. Our relationship was so full of anguish. I couldn’t figure out how I could become friends with him when I was so focused on the fear that you were about to leave me. I didn’t want to drag him into our chaos – figuring you and I needed a stable relationship before involving an innocent child.
In hindsight I know that was a mistake.
Like you said, there was no context, no terms or references.
I have to go to bed now. Good night.